The importance of in-house lawyers continues to grow, the new head of an international corporate counsel body has said, with companies increasingly creating new in-house functions.

Carsten Lueers, president of the Association of Corporate Counsel Europe, told the Gazette the importance of having an in-house legal function is not just about cost.

With a growing number of regulatory and compliance challenges, Lueers said it is ‘more effective to have a lawyer who’s integrated into the business, who knows the processes and people, and who can advise in a more effective way’.

Lueers, managing counsel at communications giant Verizon Enterprise Solutions, was elected ACC Europe president in September. ACC Europe is an arm of the Association of Corporate Counsel, a global bar association of in-house counsel which has more than 40,000 members across 90 countries.

Recent ACC Europe advocacy initiatives include supporting a scheme introduced in Switzerland’s legislature to restore legal professional privilege to in-house counsel following the 2010 European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruling in Akzo Nobel. The ACC is also requesting that the CJEU consider amending its rules to allow in-house counsel to appear before it.

ACC Europe has also written to the Hungarian ministry of justice supporting Hungarian attorneys calling for an independent bar for in-house counsel to be established.

Lueers cites ethics and compliance, and data security as matters currently at the top of GCs’ minds,

A survey conducted by the association shows that nearly six in 10 respondents expect their role in data security to expand over the next few months.

Cybersecurity is becoming part of the GC’s remit, Lueers said. GCs are now required to understand cybersecurity risks and be able to develop an effective policy ‘which is more than just the technical side around keeping data secure’.